Friday, February 09, 2007  

The hour of Confession

I honestly never thought I would say this about someone like Eric Fair, but what Eric Fair, a former US Army interrogator has done is remarkable. He has opened the US/Iraq torture files the way NGO reports never can: by starting to discuss his part in the what happened. By doing so, Fair potentially paves the way for war crimes accusations and misconduct charges, but his eloquent essay, coming on the heels of the Watada court-martial, raises important questions. When asked by your commanding officers to commit what you know are immoral and degrading acts upon another human being, do you obey or do you say no?
Many Americans would like the Abu Ghraib scandal to go away, so they can get back to other things, like being puzzled as to why Iraq lies in tatters. Well, it won't. Abu Ghraib is precisely part of the reason the situation in Iraq is like it is and our moral authority in the world hovering above zilch. Something is rotten all the way up the chain of command and into the White House, and no one knows better than Eric Fair.
Despite my best efforts, I cannot ignore the mistakes I made at the interrogation facility in Fallujah. I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself.

We have failed to properly address the abuse of Iraqi detainees. Men like me have refused to tell our stories, and our leaders have refused to own up to the myriad mistakes that have been made. But if we fail to address this problem, there can be no hope of success in Iraq. Regardless of how many young Americans we send to war, or how many militia members we kill, or how many Iraqis we train, or how much money we spend on reconstruction, we will not escape the damage we have done to the people of Iraq in our prisons.

Fair has yet to address the more egregious sexual abuse such as rape and sodomy of male and female prisoners, but perhaps, as he says, the book on Abu Ghraib has really yet to be opened.
(read the rest)

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